Matthew Albert: Northwestern 34, Duke 28
As many could tell by my prediction last week, I am very bullish on this year’s team. I think that the inexperience of Duke’s offensive line and the three starters they lost due to graduation after last season will provide the Northwestern front seven exactly what they need to be able to bring the pressure they need to limit the effectiveness of Duke quarterback Daniel Jones. I also expect NU to rely heavily on Jeremy Larkin because Duke’s talented secondary along with the “pitch count” will limit Northwestern’s passing attack. Larkin will end up with over 25 carries, and multiple touchdowns, highlighting the Wildcats victory. Charlie Kuhbander will provide the difference with two field goals, and Duke will score late as the Northwestern defense will continue their strategy of bend and not break.
Caleb Friedman: Northwestern 27, Duke 31
Last season, I was the only Inside NU staffer to take Duke in this matchup, and I’ll take the Blue Devils again. I’m worried about how Northwestern will deal with the dual-threat nature of Duke quarterback Daniel Jones, and the secondary faces a steep test against a talented group of wideouts. I think the two teams are relatively evenly matched, but that’s if Clayton Thorson plays a full game. I’m guessing Thorson won’t go the distance, and the Wildcats will come up a drive short as a result.
Avery Zimmerman: Northwestern 37, Duke 27
A lot of people think this matchup is unfavorable towards NU. As I wrote yesterday, I think this team is more equipped to deal with Duke’s RPO style offense than they were last year. If the linebackers can play slightly better than they did last week, a healthy secondary will be able to contain Duke’s WR corps much more effectively than before. Northwestern wins a similar battle to last week, relying on disciplined and smart football.
Noah Coffman: Northwestern 24, Duke 23
Northwestern’s offensive line will come to play this week, helping the Wildcats control the ball and the clock, and the speedy outside linebacking duo of Nate Hall and Blake Gallagher will have a better time containing Daniel Jones with a year of experience under their belts. It’ll be a weird one, as any 11 AM Evanston game before the students are in session inevitably is, but Northwestern will find a way to get over the hump in the end.
Martin Oppegaard: Northwestern 27, Duke 17
It feels like Northwestern always plays these ~weird~ games against Duke. This one goes a little more according to plan. Northwestern’s secondary was unbelievably banged up in Durham last year and Daniel Jones took full advantage. I don’t think things will come as easy this time around.
Lukas Stachtiaris: Northwestern 24, Duke 20
Duke’s run defense looked strong against Army last week and I expect that to carry into this weeks matchup with Northwestern. Running was a huge factor in the Wildcats’ 31-point first half against Purdue, so this will be an interesting challenge for NU’s offense. I think this is going to be a relatively low-scoring game with Clayton Thorson barely squeaking out the win at home to extend Northwestern’s win streak to 10.
Lia Assimakopoulos: Northwestern 27, Duke 24
Jeremy Larkin and the front seven will be the stars of the show on Saturday. Given the success of Duke’s pass defense and Thorson being on “pitch count” again, Larkin will likely have another 100+ yard, multi-score day. On the other end, NU’s defensive line will have its work cut out for it containing Daniel Jones who threw for 305 yards and ran for 108 yards in last years matchup, racking up four touchdowns on the day. The optimist in me says Jones will not have another day like this and the front seven will bring the pressure like they did last week against Purdue to force quarterback errors. Whether it makes a difference or not, NU has also gone 7-2 against Duke since 2000 and has won three straight at home, so I foresee Saturday’s matchup supporting the recent history.
Talia Hendel: Northwestern 27, Duke 21
I don’t get the nervous hype around the quarterback situation. Thorson looks solid, and should continue to build up his minutes, and there’s no reason to believe TJ Green can’t handle his time on the field. Sure, he looked a little shaky against Purdue, but I wouldn’t expect anything else from a backup QB in his first real game. My concern falls more with the defensive line and the secondary - between the official injury list and players who got banged up against the Boilermakers, there are some key losses in both position groups. However, after the extreme disappointment of last year’s loss, I think this will be treated as the most important game of the season in many ways. There is not a guy on this team willing to face the same outcome as last season, and that drive can make a huge difference.
Davis Rich: Northwestern 21, Duke 24
-Noah Coffman: 0-1
-Everyone else: 1-0